Cover Image: Only a Monster

Only a Monster

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Member Reviews

Wonderfully well written and characters are well done. This is such an interesting take on time-travel. I love high stakes Fantasy books. I think the story is fast-paced enough to keep readers of varying ages interested. I would suggest this for fans of Stephanie Garber or Astrid Scholte.
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“You’re not a hero Joan. You’re a Monster”
What happens when the hero of the story is the villain in someone else’s? Only a Monster by Vanessa Len is a fast-paced YA fantasy that allows us to revel in the moral quandary of what truly makes a villain.

Our leading lady Joan was told at a young age that she was a “Monster,” but until now, she has seen no hint of otherworldliness that would lead her to believe that she is different from anyone around her. While spending the summer with her mother’s family in London, she unexpectedly comes face to face with her family’s powers, and now the “Monster” moniker starts to make sense.  Oh, and that cute boy she’s been flirting with? He just so happens to be a Monster Slayer foretold in legends.  Once identities are revealed and Joan is faced with unspeakable tragedy, she is forced to flee with the heir of a rival Monster family Aaron Oliver, who is less than thrilled to be teaching Joan the ins and outs of Monster living.  While on the run, Joan gets a crash course in generations of history that may just help her become the hero of her family’s story.

“Once Upon a time” Gran murmured. “There was a boy who was born to kill monsters. A hero.”
Because Joan is the main character of the story, has lost everything important to her, and is doing everything she can to save her family this must mean that she is the “good” guy right? But what if countless people get hurt when she uses her powers? I spent the entire story going back and forth on what it means to be good and evil.  For every character we meet the argument could be made for them to be a hero or a villain.  The Monster Slayer may be against Joan’s family, but he’s just trying to save humanity… so who is wrong? I have a feeling that this is going to affect how I look at many characters in the future, and that is the mark of a truly great book, to feel those affects long after you’ve read the last page.

My romance reading heart was happy with the smidge of love story we were given, the Monster and the Monster Slayer destined for each other but torn apart by the circumstances of their birth.  It was a minor plot point in this book, but I have hopes it will be more of a focus in the sequels.  And it might be the fanfic reader in me, but the relationship between Joan, our half-blood Monster, and Aaron, our heir to one of the most esteemed Monster families gave me major Dramione vibes.  Either way, there is an epic love-story just waiting to be told and I will be anxiously waiting!

“The first time I saw you, I knew what your voice would sound like before you said a word.”
I have seen some argue that this was their favorite YA fantasy of the year, and honestly, that case could easily be made. This was a take on the morally gray hero/heroine that I haven’t seen before, Joan has to make difficult decisions that lead her further from the innocence of her pre-Monster life, but all in the name of saving her family and always with regret in her heart. The ending brought me to tears and makes the long wait for the sequel pure torture. I cannot wait to see where Vanessa Len takes this series and will be waiting for any hints as to what is waiting for us. Congratulations on an amazing release!
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Only a Monster is an enjoyable young adult book in the sci-fi/ fantasy genre.  It does have some familiar YA tropes  but nothing that would turn off a fan of the genre.

Overall, it is a unique concept - "monsters" that can leech time from humans, shortening their lifespan.  And, the writing was fresh, engaging, and kept up a fantastic pace. (You will root for the monsters) This is one book you will be glad is a part of a trilogy because you will need more at the end!  It's a good debut with room to grow.
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This is perfection! The writing is beautiful. The setting is fabulous and the romance is swoon worthy! I am obsessed! High rec for all libraries serving teens!
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This was a compelling mystery and fantasy. I really did not see that end coming and I am so excited to read the sequel. My only thing that I did not like about this book was the romance that the author was setting up. I was much more invested in the relationship between Aaron and Joan than I was between Nick and Joan and I hope the author pivots in the sequel. Joan and Nick felt very forced, which Aaron and Joan felt as if they could have a great enemies/reluctant allies to lovers arc.
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Joan thinks she is just a boring human sixteen year old with an eccentric family but this summer everything changes. Joan is a monster and is in a family of monsters through her mother's side. These monsters steal life and can use that stolen life to travel through time. When her summer crush turns out to be a monster hunter set out to kill all monsters, to survive she has to team up with Aaron Oliver from another monster family that loathes each other. The magic system is interesting and a bit tricky to understand with all the rules of time travel. This is the first book in a new trilogy so there is much to learn and see what happens. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book for an honest review.
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Where is the sequel? I don't even know if I can wait that long.

This story had so many twists and turns. This book did a wonderful job in that "monsters" can be many things and take different forms. This was a great first to a new series.
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Rating: 4 Stars

A super unique, fast-paced, urban fantasy with an intense enemies to lovers? Um, okay! 
	
	Only a Monster follows Joan, a seemingly normal girl as she prepared to spend her summer working at a historic home with the boy she has a massive crush on Nick. Little does she know that her family has a massive secret – they're monsters with hidden powers! And her crush Nick is a trained monster hunter. In order to survive Joan must team up with Aaron Oliver, the heir to the monster family who hates hers. 

	There are so many good things to talk about with this book. Starting off it’s a very fast-paced YA fantasy. I'd entirely forgotten how quickly YA books move when I picked this up. Boy oh boy, I thought I had whiplash! It's a pleasant change to some of the much longer exposition you get in adult fiction, you are quite literally immediately thrust into the action and it never stops. 

	Only a Monster is also incredibly unique with its plot and setting. It was my very first urban fantasy which was quite fun! It makes for much easier worldbuilding because rather than having to delve into a completely new world you get to experience a secret one that exists and operates within your own. Also, the reversal of the main character being the villain and the love interest stepping into the role of the hero is something I haven't read yet either. 
	
	That being said about the plot, there were elements of Vanessa Len's fantasy that did confuse me and were unclear. Time travel is a very tricky element of magic because there are so many rules that need to come into play. It was slightly more difficult to wrap my hand around how this intricate system was able to operate. 

	Now, onto the romance! I'm a sucker for a good love triangle, ever since my OG Twilight days. Vanessa Len certainly delivers on that front because not only does she give us two love interests, she gives us TWO enemies to lovers! I have already picked sides and I certainly hope Joan sides with me in her decision making – especially after that explosive ending! 

	Only a Monster left me with far more questions than answers in the end. Questions about the characters and their families, questions about the magic system, as well as general questions like "what the heck was that?" I was unaware, while reading, that this was the beginning of a new series. Which helps to explain why some of my questions weren't answered. 

	I'm super excited to see where this series goes and hopefully get some answers to my questions! It's a fun, interesting, and magical read, that I would definitely recommend. 

Thank you to Harper Collins and HCCFrenzy for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (I'm way behind on my ARC review, super sorry!)
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Okay so… I’m very intrigued by this plot, as it’s something that’s pretty original and hasn’t really been done before (time travel has, but not to this degree). Joan is a very sweet character, and for the most part I definitely understand her character choices. But there were so many times that something happened that just… didn’t make sense to me. Timelines were wacky, even at points when they weren’t time traveling. I think when the rest of the series comes out, it will tie together a bit better. But as for now, it’s just a solid 3.5-4 star book that was very interesting and I hope has a solid ending to the series.
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🍂My review!
Unfortunately I wasn’t a big fan of this book! I was expecting a book filled with monsters, as the title would suggest, however that’s not what I got!
The characters in this I felt were very one dimensional with Joan, who was a really aggravating MC, as she is supposed to have no knowledge of her families hidden life and powers but yet she acts like she knows best. 
The story itself was weak with plot holes and convenient resolutions. It also had a tell don’t show approach to any world building which was quite lacking in the end. The romantic subplot was also too rushed and not very believable. 
The writing style was ok and I could definitely see potential. 
I liked the magic system in which to travel through time you had to take time from others but I think it would have been better if we had some characters that were more brutal with it. I felt like the majority of the ‘monsters’ were not so bad and the Hunters were actually the real monsters in the end 🤷🏻‍♀️.
So yeah this just wasn’t for me at all and I unfortunately had to give this one 2⭐️.
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Book Review: ****/5 

I have had this book sitting on my NetGalley TBR list for months now and finally decided to pick it up when one of my online book clubs decided to read it for their April book. I went in completely blind thinking this was just another monster fiction book. I was surprised when it had time travel in it as well. 

Sixteen year old Joan has a crush on her coworker and is excited to go on a date with him finally. However, things don't go as planned when an elderly neighbor with dementia has an episode she wakes up to find that her day is completely gone. She soon learns that her life is not as simple as she believes. She is a monster and her family has special powers. When she goes to find Nick to explain why she missed their date she discovers that he is not who she thought he was and he will do anything to kill all monsters. In order to save her family she has to team with an unlikely ally. 

I liked the unique magic system in this book. I did find that the world building was slightly lacking. I was looking for there to be a little more romance in this book because that's what I felt was advertised. I found the ending to tie things up well with no cliff hangers but I'm interested to see what the next two books will contain because I felt like the story was complete.
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Only a Monster is a thrilling YA read full
of adventure and romance! I cannot get
over the ending!!! An absolute epic
conclusion! I am dying to get my hands
on the next book!! A symphony played
in my head as I read the ending and I
loved it!! I absolutely adored the
fantasy world that Vanessa has created
and the imagery connected to it!! The
character arc is top notch and I have
nothing but praises!! One of my
favourite reads of 2022 so far!!
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I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! 5 ⭐️ All the way! 

What I loved 
-The twists and turns! This book wasted no time getting to the plot and the stakes were high from the first few chapters. 
-The characters! Joan was a delight, you feel for everything she is going through. Aaron was a great enemy to friend. Tom was an unlikely favorite of mine 🏳️‍🌈
-Time travel and very cool powers. The family systems and history were compelling—always wanted to hear more!
-Setting was wonderful—could picture all the places perfectly as they were described. 
-The twist on hero vs monster was so clever. 

I’m so glad this book will be a trilogy! There’s so many places this could go—looking forward to reading more ❤️

Thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for the ARC!
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This story drew me in quickly and held my attention throughout. The story has a unique concept featuring star-crossed lovers which I really like. Only A Monster is the first book in a new trilogy - and I am already waiting for the next in the series! The characters are great and I look forward to reading more about their adventures.
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This book was interesting, the concept of telling the story from the monsters' point of view really drew me in and felt unique and different. However, I felt like this book missed the mark a little for me.

The book follows Joan, a biracial teen spending the summer with her family in London. The summer starts off promising with family fun, a cool job, and a sweet romance with a cute coworker. Unfortunately, all that is short-lived when Joan discovers her family members are monsters, and the cute coworker is a famed monster hunter. Uh-oh. Joan is immediately forced to go on the run with the son of a rival monster family trying to fix her future mistakes because monsters aren't monsters in the traditional sense. Instead, they're time travelers who are only able to move through time by stealing time from humans' lifespans. Also, each monster family has its own separate gift to go along with the time-traveling ability.

I did enjoy this book and it was definitely a quick read because I wanted to know what was going to happen with Joan and her friends/family. I felt like the ending was a little abrupt and while I know this is the first book in a planned trilogy it felt like there needed a little bit more explanation or more from the characters before the book ended. I don't want to spoil anything but there were definitely some questions that I felt needed to be answered in this book even knowing there will be two more books in the series. I also didn't fully believe in the romance aspect but am willing to see where it goes in the next book. I will definitely pick up the next book in the series because I'm invested now I just hope we get some more info on the monster world and Joan herself.

I was provided a free copy of this book through NetGalley.
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I’m not sure why I this was historical fantasy! The contemporary gothic twist was very fun and I’ve been recommending to everyone!
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Absolutely floored by this book! Let me tell you this, Vanessa Len can spin a yarn and build a world like the best of them. I'm in awe at this exciting, well told book. Cannot wait for the next one!!!
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While I was interested in the premise of this books (and who doesn't love a good enemies-to-lovers story with a badass heroine), Only a Monster was...a little too much for me. Too psychologically dark for me.
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This was just okay for me! Nothing really stood out to make this something special for my tastes. I also don’t personally love time travel, so maybe that’s just me. I do not think I’ll be reading the next two in the series. 

Thank you for the arc in exchange for a review!
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“You’re a hero and I’m a monster,” she whispered. “There’s only one way that story ever ends.”
Joan Chang-Hunt wants nothing more than an enjoyable summer in London with her mother’s slightly peculiar family. However, her vacation takes a remarkable turn when she discovers that a dangerous magic is passed down through her family: a family of monsters. Suddenly her summer has become a whirlwind of danger and adventure because her closest relatives are not who she thought they were. And her adorable crush from work? He’s a famous monster hunter. Joan must team with the devastatingly handsome and shockingly ruthless Aaron Oliver, a member of a rival monster family. If she wants to save the people she loves, Joan will have to learn to use her powers and come to terms with who she is, while trying to discover if she’s the hero or the villain of her own story. 

Vanessa Len has created a book of ill-fated romance, captivating characters, and thrilling time travel adventures. Only A Monster is a novel that I can’t stop thinking about, even long after reading it. Vanessa Len’s debut is a sparkling addition to the YA genre. She has brought to life a magical underground world that coexists within London. Only A Monster follows a group of characters that are objectively villains, and Len does not try to erase that truth. She does an amazing job of humanizing those characters without excusing their destructive behavior. The main character is an absorbing and complicated heroine; her characterization as a monster protagonist makes Joan someone that I was fascinated by. Joan struggles with who she wants to be and who she must be in order to save the people she loves. The moral complexities and questions of good vs. evil that Vanessa Len weaves through her debut make this novel one that will be enjoyed by teens and adult readers. 

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)

PRR Editor and Writer Frances Drye
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